finding wellness through illness
health vs. wellness:
what's the difference?
Have you ever thought about the difference between HEALTH and WELLNESS? It’s true—they’re not the same thing. Health is defined as “freedom from disease and bodily malfunction” while wellness is defined as “the quality or state of being in healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.” As you can see, health and wellness are not identical terms. Health is physical...wellness is holistic. Health refers to the body, while wellness refers to the SOUL. Health is fleeting—temporary...our bodies will fail regardless of how “healthy” they are. But wellness is eternal—it’s a state of internal health...which is something that circumstances like disease, diagnosis, or disorder can’t change. Wellness is lasting. -
We must ask ourselves: “am I choosing health over wellness?” Are we choosing the health of our bodies—our home here on earth, but a home we leave behind when we enter the next life—over the wellness of our soul? Are the “healthy” habits we are practicing actually taking away from our wellness—health of body, mind, spirit, and soul? This isn’t an easy thing to think about...but health can become an obsession—and become anything BUT healthy. And trust me—as someone who’s wrestled with both chronic illness (cystic fibrosis) and disordered eating (namely orthorexia) I know firsthand how unhealthy “healthy living” can become. But when we stop and realize that ultimately the health of our soul is what truly matters in the long run, it enables us to take a step back and get our priorities straight. There is Freedom to be found...and wellness to be enjoyed...and it starts inside.
“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my soul: He is mine forever.” —Psalm 73:25
you are more than your body
Read that again. You are MORE than your body. The way it looks, the way it performs, what it can and cannot accomplish, the illnesses and afflictions it has, and what it does and does not eat. We are told in Scripture that regardless of how fit or healthy or “detoxed” we are, our bodies will one day waste away...in fact, they are every day—no matter how hard we fight against it. The same isn’t true for our soul—the REAL us. Why are we wasting our precious moments on this earth and in this life focusing on something that doesn’t truly matter in the long run? “For what does it prosper a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?” (Mark 8:36)
It is, of COURSE, important to take care of our human bodies by eating healthy, exercising, avoiding chemicals to the best of our ability, and practicing appropriate self-care. However, we should not forget that the true us is not out physical body...it is, as Mark 8:36 reminded us above, our soul...which cannot be damaged by illness, cannot be destroyed by chemical exposure or artificial coloring, and cannot be "detoxed" with raw fruits and vegetables...but it CAN be damned by our trading the health of our body for the wellness of our soul.
I challenge you to focus on the REAL you. Start practicing soul-care which is true self-care. Look past what the eye can see...because God surely is.
“The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." —1 Samuel 16:7
how to find wellness through illness
If we let it, anything can draw us closer to God. Suffering is no different. Jesus tells us in John 16:33 that we will suffer in life: that's a given. But in spite of the suffering, we can have hope, because through His own suffering and death, we have eternal life--He has overcome the world. Our own physical (or emotional/mental/social) sufferings have the ability to draw us closer to Christ. If we allow Him to, God will reveal His love to us through our suffering--it helps us understand with a powerful clarity just what Jesus went through for us...for you and me...to have us in Heaven with Him for eternity. I doubt any of us would CHOOSE to suffer as we do, regardless of what that may look like. However, Jesus DID choose His suffering...for us. HE chose to suffer in every way that we could and do suffer (see Hebrews 4:15), all so that we would be by His side forever. "God had Christ, who was sinless, take our sin so that we might receive God's approval through Him." (2 Corinthians 5:21)
In Romans 8:28 we read how "God works all things for good for those who love Him, and who have been called according to His purposes." This verse could not become more real than how it does when we think about our sufferings in this life, and how they draw us closer to Jesus. The worst of the worst--pain, suffering, tragedy--leads to the best of the best--closer communion with Christ, and eternity in paradise with Him. The illness of our body leads to the wellness of our soul...the true us. This is how we can "rejoice in our sufferings," as Paul instructs us to do in Romans 5:3-10: because not only do we know that this life is not our final destination and that one glorious day our suffering will end and we will be in Heaven with a new body, free of suffering, and an eternity with our Savior, but because our suffering, though painful in body, lead to purification and refining of soul.
Going through illness or suffering of any kind without keeping our eyes on Christ and without the hope of eternity can and usually is unbearable. But when we keep our eyes on Christ, no matter what distractions and ploys the Devil throws at us, or storms we find ourselves stuck in, we stand strong in the face of adversity, remembering that our Protector, our Savior, is The One who has conquered this world...and all the pain, suffering, and tragedy is holds. That knowledge, that truth may not make suffering "easier" in a technical, sensory, physical sense, but it helps us to bear it, understanding that, in many cases, chronic illness may be our "cross to bear," but one that leads us directly to Jesus Christ (see Matthew 16:24).
"Do not lose heart, though our outer man is decaying, our inner man is being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." --2 Corinthians 4:16-18